Chitin and chitosan from microorganisms
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Today, a major concern about the use of crustacean chitin/chitosan in the pharmaceutical and biomedical field is still the molecular variability of a natural product, which results in a wide unpredictable range of physicochemical properties. Concurrently, the production of chitin/chitosan from microbial sources appears promising because the process can be manipulated to obtain a pure, rather uniform product with specific characteristics. In addition, the fermentative production of fungi on cheap industrial by-products and wastes is an unlimited and, in principle, a very economic source of chitin/chitosan. As well, the feasibility of obtaining β-glucan from the myceliar chitosanglucan complex, and the simultaneous extraction of chitin and chitosan make the microbial process more interesting (Pomeroy et al. 2001). This chapter highlights the research on microbial chitin and chitosan with a special focus on major sources and methods of their biotechnological production, as well as the dif...ficulties in utilizing and processing them for selected applications.